Juno

"Excellent"

Juno Review


Ellen Page plays a quirky teenager in Jason Reitman's Juno but she does so in a way I've rarely witnessed before. She's not rebelling from medication like Natalie Portman in Garden State, nor is she just a normal, shy girl who is externally quirky like Tina Majorino in Napoleon Dynamite. Her peculiarities aren't her definition like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club, and she's not flippantly cute and brazenly poetic like Zooey Deschanel in Paul Gordon Green's All the Real Girls. Page's Juno MacGuff certainly has hints of all these characters, but what we witness of her comes from somewhere far off-screen. Remarkably, the world we're watching doesn't revolve around her.

When this Argento-loving firecracker gets knocked up by Paulie Bleeker (the invaluable Michael Cera), her rhythms don't change much; a big cookie consumed simultaneously with a lamb kebob seems like something she'd eat even if her hormones weren't all akimbo. After chatting up an ex-pill popper/current pro-lifer, her attempts to procure an abortion are thwarted by the thought of her baby's tapping fingernails and the sterilized miasma of the clinic's waiting room. Hastily, she opts for an old-fashioned, at-birth adoption with no frills. Her parents, played lovingly by J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney, are concerned but surprisingly level-headed, even if they wished she had just gotten a DUI instead of getting knocked up.

The mother-to-be finds the ideal parents-to-be in the local Pennysaver paper, charmed by the legitimacy of their picture. (They didn't use a fake background.) The adoptive mother, Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner), says she feels like she was born to be a mother but her husband Mark (Jason Bateman) shows hesitancy from the first "sure." They act happy but he digs Sonic Youth, Herschell Gordon Lewis, and his cherry Les Paul while she tries to explain the importance of a Pilates machine to Juno's father.

Not surprisingly, Reitman showed the same cavalier adeptness to comedy as his father in last year's grossly overrated Thank You for Smoking though he showed little else as a filmmaker. Second time's a charm: maybe it's Diablo Cody's witty and honest script, or maybe it's just momentum, but Reitman feels more mature and assured of his assets in Juno than even Smoking's most ardent fans could have anticipated. Considering his genes, it comes as a particular shock how he works with actors and how he gets them to hit notes that seem to be otherwise unreachable by the cast.

Reitman's new abilities are never more apparent than when Juno finds out that the Lorings might be divorcing and that Paulie has chosen to go to prom with a girl who smells like soup. One might think a girl who refers to penises as "pork swords" and listens to Patti Smith and Iggy Pop exclusively would be able to handle these blows, but it's no slice of meringue. Cera has a natural earnestness when he tells Juno that she's being unfair and immature, but when Page says "I'm a planet," you can feel the weight of the room shift.

From the outset, Page all but merges with Juno, and her punchy one-liners and peculiar contortions really come from her gut rather than a typed page. By the time our heroine's water breaks, Reitman has transformed her early idiosyncrasies into an eccentric but sincere tenderness that radiates in the cast. Janney, donning wonderfully cheesy sweaters throughout, delivers the most heartfelt of Cody's lines when answering how Garner looks with her baby: "Like a new mom: scared shitless."

The fact that Juno goes for adoption rather than the other "a" has caused a few critics to cast the film as a conservatives-go-hip ploy. That doesn't fly for me: Almost every character exudes notably blue-state warmth, and though the American family is seen as a dilapidated structure, it's whole-heartedly embraced for its flaws without a hint of chastisement. But sometimes these films don't have to be about the "right" and "wrong" attitudes towards dubious issues nor even about what agenda the helmer may or may not be after. Sometimes they are simply about finding the right cheese for your macaroni.

It's a girl.



Juno

Facts and Figures

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 25th December 2007

Box Office USA: $143.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $231.4M

Budget: $7.5M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight

Production compaines: Mandate Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 193 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Mason Novick

Starring: as Juno MacGuff, as Paulie Bleeker, as Vanessa Loring, as Mark Loring, as Bren MacGuff, J.K. Simmons as Mac MacGuff, as Leah, as Gerta Rauss, as Rollo, Daniel Clark as Steve Rendazo, as Girl Lab Partner, Aman Johal as Vijay, Eve Harlow as Tough Girl, as Su-Chin, as Punk Receptionist

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.